A good year for SA’s Kirsten Land­man

The Witness - Wheels - - RACING -

THE Red Bull Sea to Sky is unique: three days of rac­ing in beau­ti­ful ter­rain on the shores of the Turk­ish Riviera. Each day has a dif­fer­ent for­mat and ter­rain, mak­ing this one of the tough­est and most en­joy­able races for hard en­duro rid­ers the world over.

This year saw the first op­por­tu­nity for Brother Leader Tread KTM rider Kirsten Land­man to make it to the Turk­ish event so we caught up with her upon her re­turn to SA.

Q: “Sea to Sky is quite a new event in the grand scheme of things and the 2015 race was the sixth edi­tion. You are the first woman in the world to re­ceive a gold fin­isher’s medal. How does that make you feel?”

Kirst: “Wow, af­ter all the tri­als and tribu­la­tions over the past few years and the bad luck I had at Ro­man­ics this year, it was good to have a strong re­sult, es­pe­cially on an in­ter­na­tional scale.

“It’s a good feel­ing to know the hard work and ded­i­ca­tion is pay­ing off in the form of such a re­sult. I still can’t ex­plain ex­actly how I feel in words.

“The sup­port from South African fans has been amaz­ing and I would like to thank ev­ery­one for the mes­sages of sup­port.”

Q: “We can safely say that this is your ca­reer high point so far. What has led you to this? What made you want to ride dirt bikes? Did you re­alise as a lit­tle girl you wanted to be a dirt biker or did a fam­ily mem­ber steer you to it?”

Kirst: “My dad grew up with dirt bikes and my un­cle and cousin rode. My cousin and I are close in age so ob­vi­ously I wanted a go too. At the time, I was very into my swim­ming and was try­ing out for the pro­vin­cial team so my dad said if I made the team, he would buy me a dirt bike. I was eight. I got into the team and I was given a pee­wee 80 and ever since then I have been mo­tor­bike gaga! The pro­gres­sion went from there to ATVs and then fi­nally I got and RM85, then an RM125, my first real dirt bikes and I started en­ter­ing the lo­cal club hare-scram­bles.

“I will never for­get how good it felt to place fourth, then third, then I ac­tu­ally started to beat them.

“I never looked at it as a ca­reer path, it was mostly a pas­sion that I shared with my dad.

“Once my school­ing was com­plete, in fact the next year, I took a gap year. I got picked up by a team and started com­pet­ing on a na­tional level do­ing En­duros. Then in 2012, what a ter­ri­ble year, that was the year I DNF-ed at the Roof at my first at­tempt and I had loads of stupid in­juries that slowed my de­vel­op­ment down, I re­ally thought, ‘well this is as far as I go with rac­ing’ be­cause I hadn’t shaped at all. That was when the leg­end of SA Off Road and En­duro rac­ing, Daryl Cur­tis, in­tro­duced me to my now team man­ager, Franziska Brandl of KTM SA. Hav­ing lost my ride, KTM were look­ing for a woman rider. It was like a fairy tale, I met the boss and within days was sign­ing a con­tract.” Q: “Tell us about that year.

Kirst: “I was hav­ing a good year un­til half­way through the sea­son when I had a high-speed crash at the Desert Race and well let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. I had to be medevac’d and had some bad in­juries. I don’t re­gret the crash as it made me hun­grier to suc­ceed and I feel I grew as a per­son and as a racer. I learnt to live in the now as you never know when it will all be taken away from you. The bulk of the re­main­der of that year was spent mend­ing.” Q: “And last year was good wasn’t it?

Kirst: “Yes, it so was! I got my first taste of Hard En­duro when I went to Ro­man­ics. What a chal­lenge and what an hon­our it was. Then af­ter that was the Roof at the end of the year which I fin­ished, the whole year felt like ev­ery time I raced I im­proved. Q: “So tell us, what’s next?”

Kirst: “It’s Roof of Africa time! We will take the race step by step, I don’t want to cre­ate too much ex­pec­ta­tion and pres­sure as Roof is af­ter all the mother of all hard en­duros.”

Q: “Would you make a switch in the na­tional en­duros to pos­si­bly E2 or E1 go­ing for­ward?”

Kirst:” Well the stan­dard in SA En­duro is re­ally high, my team-mates Bou­verie, Teas­dale and Young are tes­ta­ment to this.

“I am have no delu­sions that I’m as quick as those guys. Speed is not my strong side, I pre­fer tech­ni­cal stuff and the en­durance side of hard en­duro. So for now, I haven’t re­ally de­cided. Sil­ver would be my im­me­di­ate choice but maybe a stint on the 250F is on the cards. But I have tasted suc­cess on the 250 Freeride and that’s go­ing to be my first choice for hard en­duro.”

Q: “There are some ru­mours that there will be a hard en­dure cham­pi­onship in SA in 2016. Would you be in­ter­ested?”

Kirst: “Def­i­nitely. I want to do as much hard en­duro as I can and my goal would be to fin­ish all the rounds and again pave the way for woman in our sport as the first woman fin­isher.”

Q: “What mes­sage would you give to young rid­ers and young girls specif­i­cally who are start­ing out?”

Kirst: “It sounds like a cliché, but live your dreams, don’t let go of them, they can be achieved. Doubt is part of life, but when you fall down and things are tough, never give up. Al­ways push for what you want. Don’t let any­thing hold you back. You’re on this planet once, make it count.” — WR.

PHOTO: IRINA GORODNIAKOVA

Kirsten Land­man is the first woman in the world to re­ceive a gold fin­isher’s medal at the Sea to Sky.

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